SEATTLE - Wednesday in downtown Seattle, the goal of an art display was to make people stop and take notice of drug overdoses King County.
“We are somewhere in the midst of another opiate epidemic as you can see by the 320 pairs of shoes and balloons that are out there,” said an event organizer.
VOCAL, which stands for Voices of Community Activists and Leaders, was one of the groups behind the gathering in Westlake Park. The 320 balloons on display represent the drug caused deaths in King County in 2015.
“That could be anybody. That could be your sister or your brother you know,” said an onlooker.
Families who lost loved ones talked about what they called preventable deaths. During the two-hour event, they discussed the importance of Naloxone, a life-saving drug which disrupts the effects of an opiate overdose. The crowd was reminded of Washington’s Good Samaritan Law, which allows you to seek medical help for someone having an overdose without being charged for having or using a small amount of drugs. There was also talk about Supervised Consumption Sites which are spaces for people who use drugs that private, hygienic, legally permitted, and medically supervised. The sites are a controversial idea that is currently part of the conversation.
The Seattle/King County Heroin Task Force has been discussing how to reduce overdoses. Shilo Murphy, the Executive Director of People’s Harm Reduction Alliance, is a member of the task force.
“As someone who has had seven overdoses themselves, I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Naloxone. And regardless of what you think or feel about me the world is better that I am in it trying to make it a better place,” said Murphy who adds that he helps drug users by offering a needle exchange and handing out Naloxone.
Seattle/King County Heroin Task Force will submit a report to Seattle and King County soon.
Copyright 2016 KING